I’ve just finished reading Chris Flynn’s excellent piece on the Equinor oil drill fuckery happening in the Great Australian Bight.
Have you done what he suggested and made some noise yet? Before you read any further, please click here and leave your comments, because NOPSEMA can shut this shit down before it even gets started. It’s a magical thing to see so many people up in arms, especially considering the lack of information about Equinor and their horseshit plans coming through the mainstream press. In fact, it was an Instagram post by the world’s greatest surf writer Sean Doherty that sparked viral global outrage on a scale that we haven’t seen in the surf community since French Nuclear Testing in the South Pacific back in the 90s.
MC decided to have a chat to Seano to find out where the surf activism has been for past 20 years, how we can use it to make a better future for everyone, and what it’s like to break the internet with something other than a photo of an oily bumhole.
So Seano, may I start this conversation by simply asking what the actual fuck?
That was my exact reaction. That Equinor spill modelling diagram was released around three weeks ago, but last week I thought, ‘I should probably chuck that up just to share the magnitude of a spill and how much of the coast it threatens.’ So, I did that, went for a surf and an hour later I got home and there were 8000 likes. My all-time record before that was when my daughter, Kiki, stole my phone and posted a selfie she got with Kelly Slater. That was about 2000 likes. So yeah, 8000 was a big leap. And the gist of it was that people were not happy at all.
My favourite responses were the 18,000 new comments on Equinor’s Instagram account.
I dropped that in as an afterthought. I said, ‘Maybe head over to Equinor’s page and let them know what you think about oil drilling in the Bight.’ Next thing you know, ten thousand ockers are absolutely lighting these guys up.
Equinor definitely has a dart board with your head on it in their office.
I’m half expecting to be bagged and chucked into a black van with Norweigan plates next time I walk to the shops.
Chris Flynn gave us the details in his post, but explain briefly what’s at risk here and why the drilling sucks?
Well, there are a lot of problems with it, like, how any of this could be entertained by our own government in the first place? But from an environmental perspective, this drill will be a long way out. It’s in deep water, the Bight is open to the Roaring 40s and incredibly wild ocean conditions, meaning a fuck-up cannot be easily fixed or contained in any reasonable timeframe, and all that oil spewing into the sea has the potential to create an environmental disaster that will affect huge areas of our most pristine coastline for generations. The second point is this: if they’re spending that much money to go that far out to sea, to stick a drill down through two and a half kilometers of ocean depth and then another three k’s of sea bed, just to try and find oil, surely they could be using that time and money to invest in an energy source that is renewable? Last time I checked, there wasn’t oil in unlimited supply on Earth. It’s gonna run dry at some point, and risking so much for the little bit that’s left is absolutely mindless.
Is the modern surf community capable of being effective activists, mate? We have this romantic ideal in our heads about being a part of something spiritual and connected to the environment in a way that non-surfers will never understand, but that’s all a bunch of bullshit if we can’t make a stand for something when it really matters?
Surfers have been massive underachievers for a long time when it comes to doing anything. There are organisations that bust their hump to make change, but they are a minority in the surf community. The last time we saw a mass grouping of surfers gather around anything environmental was the French Nuclear tests in the Pacific Maruoa Atolls back in 1995. And before that you had the shit works pumping out at Manly and Malabar with Sydney beaches covered in raw sewage which also hit a chord and got surfers mobilised. So, it was a welcome surprise to see a groundswell of involvement behind this fight for the Bight. The other thing I loved is that people are filling in forms and having paddle outs and being active with their support. Simply ‘liking’ something does fuck all. It doesn’t help to solve the problem. At some point, someone has to do something, and right now the whole drilling proposal is before the industry regulator. The public can comment on it. It’s encouraging that people have been sharing that link and making it known to the decision makers that we’re not gonna stand for it. The comments on NOPSEMA went from a couple of hundred to 11,000 in four days, and I think you could safely say that most of those comments were made by surfers.
It’s an election year here in Australia, yet despite the huge population of surfers in this country and their reaction to this whole scenario, this whole deal hasn’t generated much interest from mainstream press at all.
Correct. It’s been buried. I don’t know how. It should be big news but it’s not. But this is the Adani of the south. Labor drew up the leases for this mob and the Liberals have developed it, so they both have their hands dirty. The independents would be loving it because ignoring an issue like this is not gonna win the major parties any undecided votes in the surf community, that’s for sure. Regarding the media, though, on Monday next week we’ll be sending Equinor and the leaders of all major political parties an open letter from Mick Fanning, Wayne Lynch, Nat Young, Occy, Taj Burrow, Pam Burridge, Mark Richards, Layne Beachley, Steph Gilmore, and twenty-eight other hugely influential surfing legends Everyone who matters in Australian surfing has signed this thing. If that doesn’t make a splash, I don’t know what will.
Give me three things we can all do right now, I mean literally right now, to help stop this threat to the Australian Coastline?
Get on NOPSEMA. It’s open for everyone to comment until March 20. Then start working on your local member. Start pressuring them, force them to take a position. And if it all goes to shit, get ready to take to the streets.